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New Mexico product Gretz reflects on rookie season with OHL’s Firebirds

 

Marcus Gretz of the Flint Firebirds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Marcus Gretz came to the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Flint Firebirds as a rookie defenseman last season with high expectations.

Suffice to say, he succeeded playing on the Major Junior stage, and the Albuquerque native still has room to keep growing.

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“I think this season was huge for our team,” Gretz said. “Although we may not have done as well in the standings, I think we all improved our games heavily and grew a very tight-knit bond which is going to be very exciting to watch in the coming years. I think the adversity we faced was great. Not making the playoffs made us all so hungry and motivated in the offseason and checking in with the guys, we’ve all been having big offseasons.”

Gretz took in the NHL Draft in June in Dallas and saw two Flint teammates selected in Ty Dellandrea (first round, Dallas Stars) and Dennis Busby (fifth round, Arizona Coyotes). He said seeing those two drafted is prepping him for his draft year of 2020.

“I can’t describe how amazing it was being at the draft and seeing the boys get drafted,” said Gretz. “It really motivated me not just for myself but for New Mexico as well.

“Every day this summer, it’s been two hours in the gym and I felt like that wasn’t enough, so I started taking a conditioning class on Saturday mornings just to push myself to the best I can be.”

The Firebirds have a budding rivalry in the OHL with the Saginaw Spirit, the other Michigan-based team in the league. Gretz said playing the Spirit takes him back to his youth hockey career.

“The rivalry is something like I’ve never seen,” said Gretz. “From when I was on Team New Mexico playing the Jr. Coyotes to being on Belle Tire playing Little Caesars, the rivalry we have with Saginaw is great because the games are intense and very fun to play in.

“Win or lose, it always seems like we get decent crowds. Our fans are absolutely amazing and are always behind us.”

Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images

— Matt Mackinder

(Aug. 9, 2018)